Warracknabeal NBN construction set to start; fixed-wireless stations to double

CONSTRUCTION on a fixed wireless National Broadband Network tower for Warracknabeal will start next year.

Works are already underway in the Yarriambiack municipality at Minyip, Murtoa and Rupanyup.

Yarriambiack Shire Council infrastructure and planning director James Magee said NBN Co aimed to have the Warracknabeal tower online in the first half of 2016.

The announcement follows an NBN Co review of its satellite and fixed-wireless programs last week.

The review found there was demand for NBN from more than 600,000 families, farms and businesses outside Australia’s cities by 2021.

The demand is three times greater than the company anticipated.

NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow said up to 620,000 homes, farms and businesses outside the fixed-line footprint would be connected to the NBN by 2021, up from the 230,000 noted in the company’s 2012-15 Corporate Plan.

He said NBN Co must improve construction methods, double fixed-wireless base stations from 1400 to 2700 to serve 85 per cent more premises, and extend the reach of the fibre to the node network to serve up to 25,000 places that had been slated for fixed-wireless or satellite connections.

“To meet the higher-than-expected demand for broadband in these areas, the review tells us we need to think smarter about the way we use technology,’’ he said.

“That way we can meet the needs of those Australians who stand to benefit most from fast, affordable and reliable broadband.’’

The NBN report does not detail where the extra connections will be.

But Cr Ray Kingston expressed concerns about what the new report could mean for Warracknabeal.

He said the fixed wireless tower would service parts of Warracknabeal and surrounds, while the centre of town was earmarked to receive fibre to the node.

“Woomelang certainly deserves to have a wireless tower, as well as fibre to the node for Warracknabeal, which was the original concept.’’ - James Magee

Cr Kingston said he was concerned the demand for connection to the NBN could affect the town.

“It’s a very short step for them to say, ‘This town wants wireless, let’s deliver – Warracknabeal has wireless, everybody’s happy’,’’ he said.

Cr Terry Grange also shared concerns about a lack of information about the NBN delivery for the shire.

Towns in the shire north of Warracknabeal are subject to a federal Fixed Wireless and Satellite Strategic Review.

Cr Grange said he was unsure what would happen with Woomelang.

Woomelang was originally approved for wireless, but was later downgraded to satellite because of costs.

Mr Magee said the NBN Co review could provide an opportunity for the shire.

“All towns north of here are in the same boat,’’ he said.

“Maybe this review is an opportunity.

“Woomelang certainly deserves to have a wireless tower, as well as fibre to the node for Warracknabeal, which was the original concept.’’

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